Photo: Jamaica Olympic Association President Christopher Samuda has hailed the performces of the Jamaican contingent at the Commonwealth Games.
Jamaica sent its largest contingent of athletes ever to the 21st staging of the Commonwealth Games held on the Gold Coast in Australia earlier this month and came back with its largest haul of 27 medals including 7 gold. The nation was represented in 15 sports, the most at any games, signaling the intentions of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) to increase sport development throughout Jamaica.
The transitioning athletics team showed great versatility as medals were earned in the field and middle distance events for the first time at the games, with the overall track and field tally being 25 medals.
Team captain Fedrick Dacres and his training partner Traves Smikle won gold and silver medals in the Men’s Discus, Danniel Thomas-Dodd won gold in the Women’s Shot Put, Aisha Praught-Leer won gold in the 3000m Steeplechase while Natoya Goule won bronze in the Women’s 800m as Jamaica expanded its reach in track and field.
Alia Atkinson was again at the forefront for swimming and the dependable Sunshine Girls once again represented well in netball. Atkinson won silver in the Women’s 50m Breaststroke while the netball team retained their bronze medal earned in Glasgow four years ago.
President of the JOA, Christopher Samuda, was very appreciative of all of the nation’s representatives to the games and not only the medal winners. Speaking on his return to the island last Tuesday, he heaped praises on a number of those who participated in the “Friendly Games”.
“I must thank De’Jour Russell. He embodies the aspirations of our emerging generation of sprinters who wish to take their rightful place on the international stage. He came and he went to the finals and he was congratulated by all the experts at his willingness and his tenacity. I want to say that the JOA is very insistent that there must be generational success and this is why we encourage our youth to take their rightful place on the international stage and to do the country proud. I have no doubt that his example will be emulated by those who also have excelled,” Samuda said.
The Rugby team qualified for the games for the first time and the players and their President came in for much praise for their efforts.
“I would also like to thank the new sports that are emerging and those who were first on the scene. Rugby, when I spoke to our rugby team when I saw them, these are men who are risking limb for the country. They did us proud, they took their hits but nevertheless they pressed on with tenacity. I really want to thank President Jerry (Benzwick) and his team at the Rugby Federation for such a splendid display of fortitude and courage,” he continued.
Other first time representatives were in wrestling, women’s basketball and Lawn Bowls.
“We had also wrestling with Kevin Wallen who did us justly proud in yet another new sport on the Commonwealth scene (for Jamaica). I want to thank him for blazing the trail so that others will follow.
“I also want to pay special tribute to our female basketballers who are also first at the Commonwealth Games and who played admirably, did not do as well as they intended but yet again they did us proud.
“I would also like to thank our Lawn Bowls athletes, particularly Newell who was able to beat the number one. This is now and emerging sport and I pledge that we will pay attention to it as we go forward.”
The Sunshine Girls who showed great mental strength to earn a medal also came in for praise from the man who was one of their loudest cheerleaders in the Bronze mdal match against New Zealand.
“I have also, to mention the netballers, the gold eluded us but what they did was to continue to write the history of a sport that has been quite successful. The determination after the defeat to England, they bounced back with alacrity, they bounced back with commitment and they took New Zealand in fine style. I want to thank the Sunshine Girls and encourage them.
Alia Atkinson is without doubt Jamaica’s greatest swimmer of all time and for her, the greatest accolades were reserved.
“I would also like to thank and to salute Alia (Atkinson), what a wonderful sports ambassador for the country. The results were not what we wanted, but Alia was our flag bearer and she exemplified everything that a sportsman and sportswoman should be. Courage, courtesy, a willingness to meet the opponent in a friendly context, despite defeat and that commitment to country. Alia, wherever you are, the JOA salutes you and your country salutes you,” the JOA President said.